Tech excellence propels PWD


NST, April 16, 2018

DRIVEN by clear long-term goals and objectives, the National Transformation 2050 (TN50) Programme strives to propel Malaysia to become the world’s top 20 nations in terms of economic development, citizen well-being and innovation by leveraging on the advancement of technology.

TN50 is the government’s proactive and holistic effort aimed at seizing the opportunity of the future, which is influenced by the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR.

4IR will change the way people live, work and relate to one another. It is characterised by a range of emerging and enabling technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds, and will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and challenge ideas about what it means to be human.

At the epicentre of 4IR is the notion of machine learning, the ability of machines to learn and create algorithms that can identify patterns in large, evolving data sets, and drawing sound conclusions from past experiences, known as Artificial Intelligence.

Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoTs) allows us to be surrounded by a network of smart interconnected devices and services capable of sensing or even listening to requests or needs, and acting on them.

It is expected, and has been extensively reported, that the future is mostly about engineering and technology. This will allow the construction industry to deliver a more sustainable solution to society, the economy and environment. At present, there is a shift in the economic model of the construction industry from a “take, make and dispose” approach to a “circular” approach, aiming for zero construction waste.

The government’s largest technical agency, the Public Works Department (JKR), saw this opportunity 12 years ago and initiated a transformative agenda, which is fittingly described in its vision statement — to become a world-class service provider and centre of excellence in asset management, project management and engineering services for the development of the nation’s infrastructure through creative and innovative human capital and state-of-the-art technology.

Established in 1872, with a current strength of more than 3,000 technical professionals and 18,000 enforcers, JKR has come a long way. While maintaining its traditional role, it has also aggressively ventured into unconventional job scopes. For instance, the RM600 million Total Hospital Information System, implemented 11 years ago, was heralded as the world’s first comprehensive fully automated hospital operation with state-of-the-art technology.

Another is the RM1 billion renewable energy (RE) solar hybrid project last year. It provides JKR with the first-mover advantage in big scale RE in remote areas.

The newly opened 9km Rawang Bypass, which puts Malaysia on the world engineering map, has been described as one of the most complex nature guided infrastructure projects. The toll-free highway, which features a 2.7km elevated stretch at a height of 58.2m, cuts across Taman Warisan Negeri Selangor (formerly Templer Park). The aim is to minimise the impact on the environment, protect the endangered giam kanching tree species, which cannot be found elsewhere in the world, and offer a majestic view to motorists.

The new Centre of Excellence in Engineering and Technology in Alor Gajah is JKR’s research institute. The institute has established an innovative road construction technique — the rubberised pavement — which uses natural rubber as an additive to improve the durability and stability of bituminous road surfaces.

JKR’s credentials are aptly reflected by the attainment of four certified ISO Standards — the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System, OHSAS 18001:2007 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems and ISO 50001:2011 Energy Management System. The certification honours JKR as the only government agency in the country to receive multiple recognition. JKR was also recently awarded the Platinum Certified Green Building Index for its 37-storey skyscraper headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, dubbed “Diamond in the City”. It is the first high-rise building in Malaysia to receive this highest category of green certification.

All these achievements have raised the JKR brand; in essence, JKR has transformed itself from the typical image of a traditional government entity to one with a global presence and outlook.

Moving forward, the agency will venture more aggressively beyond the country’s borders. Indeed, JKR has a significant role to play in shaping the country’s future and is ready to take the lead to drive the nation towards a greater Malaysia by 2050.

Electrical engineer and head of JKR TN50 Task force

Civil engineer

Quantity surveyor

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